Glen Falloch twice and honestly loved it
by dogplodder » Thu Jan 28, 2021 7:54 pm
Route description: An Caisteal and Beinn a'Chròin, near Crianlarich
Munros included on this walk: Beinn a' Chròin
Date walked: 04/11/2020
Time taken: 7 hours
Distance: 14 km6 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
But we still had a week booked for just the two of us the first week of November within easy driving distance of Beinn a' Chroin, my last Crianlarich Munro. Beinn a' Chroin is usually climbed with An Caisteal but AC was my grandson's first Munro in 2012, so Beinn a' Chroin was left out of the equation. Since then I climbed all the other Crianlarich hills but Beinn a' Chroin was still there at the far end of Glen Falloch waiting for a visit. To be fair I'd made several attempts, with plans to go either solo or with different folk but each time had been thwarted by circumstances or weather, most recently when I cancelled a B & B booking with Ruth in September because sharing a room didn't seem to be in the spirit of covid restrictions around that time. My best chance looked like being the week we had booked starting 31st October.
When it was announced a day before we were due to go that a new tiered system was being introduced during the week we'd be away we wondered if we'd have to cancel again. But Nicola had said holiday bookings could still be honoured and we weren't going into an area with high transmission so we stuck to the plan.
The day we drove down it was torrential rain and knowing Glen Falloch's reputation for sogginess I thought for the umpteenth time this out and back idea was daft. I came to the conclusion it probably wouldn't happen and we'd make do with a week of short walks and jigsaws. But meeting up with friends on the Monday gave me fresh hope. A couple of months earlier I'd flagged up the Beinn a' Chroin idea with Anthony (someone I walked with occasionally when he lived on the Black Isle). He said he was up for it if he had time to prepare for it (he felt on account of his age he was getting past climbing the bigger hills) and when we met for lunch (which was still allowed) he said preparing to climb Beinn a' Chroin had given him a goal and kept him going for the past two months. So that was it, we were going!
Anthony picked what looked like the best day for weather, which was two days later. We arrived about 8.00 at the layby next to what used to be a boggy field of cows and found a pristine new path has been laid. I had Keira on the lead, so as not to aggravate the cows, but there wasn't a cow in sight. We were quickly under the railway and on the track to cross the bridge over the River Falloch. It was still half light so no photos taken of river but here's one from the same point on the way to An Caisteal.
River Falloch and Sron Gharbh in October 2012
Heading for river in November 2020
Moon in a blue sky
It was easy walking up the hydro track and took us 30 minutes to reach the dam. The dog was loving it.
Dog leading the way on track up Glen Falloch
End of hydro track at dam
In this infamous glen of squelch I expected the ground to be wet and it lived up to all expectations. But knowing it would be like that made all the difference. It was okay. There was always a way round.
Start of muddy path
But it wasn't so good for everyone. Not far off the track we met a young guy coming towards us. He had slipped and fallen in the mud, hurt his arm and decided this wasn't for him. He didn't look that well equipped so it was probably the right decision.
View back to dam
Beinn a Chroin up the glen
We stayed on the west side of the river but I didn't register passing the sheepfold. Beinn a' Chroin means the "Hill of the sheepfold" so I should have remembered to look out for it. What I did remember from almost every WH report I read was the large vegetated rock and requirement for it to be photographed and put in one's own report as well!
Rock with garden on top and our hill beyond
From other side
View north to Ben Challum
I took a phone photo to send to Pete as he likes to know how it's going. It may be to do with the way the light was at that moment but I think it's come out better than the one from my camera.
Phone photo like an oil painting
I knew from the map we were heading for a point just above the confluence of two streams, where we were to cross to the east side. Following the faint path it wasn't difficult to find. Before crossing I went to investigate what was causing great interest for my dog and rather wished I hadn't. Beside a prominent rock at the crossing point was a large pile of poo (and it wasn't dog poo) with no attempt to bury or cover it. And apart from that it's not acceptable to defecate beside a water source which further down anyone could take a drink from. If my dog had done that I would have removed it. I don't often feel angry out in the hills but this had me fuming.
There's no excuse for that sort of behaviour. Not cool at all. I called Keira away and set my mind to the task of crossing this raging little torrent with the aid of some wobbly boulders and up the other side. From there we followed the grassy ridge up with a faint path most of the way. It's a bit eroded on steeper sections but nothing difficult.
From above the crossing
Cruach Ardrain and Stob Glas
The way up the ridge and into the cloud
Is this the man who's given up on bigger hills?
Dog looking less chipper now
Cloud closing in
We reached the summit ridge at a dip and where the path forked right or left we took the right fork to the west. The path weaved round and over rocky lumps with one short section of wet rock where I got hands on, which would probably have been fine if it was dry.
I'd read about the wide-ranging views from the top of Beinn a' Chroin but on the day we were there it was wide-ranging cold wet opaqueness, with ghostly shapes looming ahead. Funny thing is I was still enjoying it, which is possibly more than my dog was, about to summit her third Munro and wondering why this walk was so cold, dreich and miserable.
No views here
We passed the cairn we took to be the true summit and continued west for a bit just to check there was nothing more prominent further on. At that point we met a couple coming the opposite way who confirmed there was nothing but a steep descent the way they had come. They had climbed An Caisteal and were chuffed to have reached their second Munro of the day. The man was most enthusiastic about the outcome of their day so far, while his wife rolled her eyes to me behind his back and said quietly "Why do we do this?".
Looking back to summit
I think Keira shared her sentiments, as can be deduced from her demeanour in the summit photo. As may also be deduced, the summit views were zilch.
Sitting at summit cairn with hood almost blown off
We didn't hang about for long but joined the other couple returning the way we'd come. When we reached the fork in the path at the start of the descent they decided to keep going to the other (lower) summit cairn so we did the same, not that we expected the view to be any better, which it wasn't.
We were keeping an eye out for a sheltered spot to stop for lunch but there wasn't anywhere obvious so we sat down at the side of the path just before the dip in the ridge which was our way down. It was at least out of the immediate blast of the wind from the north. Keira got her usual carrot and half my egg sandwiches to cheer her up. In any case I wasn't all that hungry and I figured the dog's need was greater then mine for keeping herself warm when we weren't moving. Having said that she perked up once we got going again and was her usual enthusiastic self once we were out of the cloud. She's maybe a fair weather walker.
Lunch stop on return from other summit cairn
Back to join path we came up
Way down from dip in summit ridge
Back down to Glen Falloch
A winding path all the way
When we reached the river crossing I chose a different way over, not wanting to risk the wobbly boulder. It involved first lowering myself down a sheer bit of rock but was an easier crossing. I wasn't far up the opposite bank when I heard a plaintive howl and looking back there was Keira sitting above the bit I came down. I called her to come but she wouldn't budge.
In common with all labradors, Keira loves water and is a strong swimmer. But she'd got herself into a negative mindset about crossing this particular stretch of water and like with rebooting the computer I had to get her out of it. So I walked downstream to where the bank was level and grassy rather than steep and rocky and threw a stone in. Immediately her retriever instinct kicked in and she was into that stream with tail wagging, looking for the exact stone I threw.
After that all was straightforward, back to the vegetated rock, over and round the swampy bits and back on to the hydro track from where it took 25 minutes to get back to the layby.
So was it a good idea to do an out and back along Glen Falloch to climb Beinn a' Chroin? For me at the tail end of a strange year of frustrated plans the answer is a resounding yes. I'd tried for so long to climb this hill that it didn't matter in the end how I did it or that there were no views from the top. Glen Falloch is a beautiful glen and even after all that rain it was still possible to walk along it with relatively dry feet. I honestly enjoyed it and was grateful to Anthony for coming with me and that he enjoyed it too!
by Huff_n_Puff » Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:40 pm
by Anne C » Sat Jan 30, 2021 8:14 pm
by dogplodder » Mon Feb 01, 2021 6:51 pm
Huff_n_Puff wrote:Some lovely moody photos here, shame about the weather at the summit, I remember a great view down Glen Falloch right to Ben Nevis. Had to laugh at Keira, she was such a savvy young hill dog in the Grey Corries, but perhaps you're right, she's a good weather walker, just like us
She's done too much walking with me not to want it to be fine and sunny!
by dogplodder » Thu Feb 04, 2021 2:35 pm
Anne C wrote:Very enjoyable and interesting report dogplodder - I've got Beinn a Chroin still to do too and hope to finally do it this year via the route you used. Will be referring to your report again once we are out of lockdown here in Glasgow! You got some good photos too, despite no views at the top.
Thanks Anne. Hopefully when you go you will get your usual wonderful views from the top and I will look forward to seeing your evidence of that!
by Grisu » Sat Feb 06, 2021 2:35 pm
by dogplodder » Tue Feb 09, 2021 2:40 pm
Grisu wrote:Thanks for the report, only have passed the place on my travels to the north or west. To read a report make an unkown place more familiar so that I will remember it next time I am looking for walks.
To be honest it's probably better done along with An Caisteal, but done alone I found it fine to do this way!
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